In light of a Tuesday announcement from Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, that he will retire at the end of the year, Mitt Romney, former Massachusetts governor and a vocal critic of President Trump, is eyeing the longest-serving Senate Republican’s soon-to-be-open seat.
While Romney has not publicly announced his run, several Republican sources tell CBS News that the 2012 GOP presidential nominee has been quietly preparing for Hatch’s retirement. Offering another hint at his potential run for the Utah Senate spot, Romney changed his Twitter location from “Massachusetts” to “Holladay, UT” soon after Hatch announced that he will not seek reelection.
Hatch’s decision to leave the Senate may have disappointed Mr. Trump, who repeatedly encouraged him to run for an eighth term. And despite the Mr. Trump’s endorsement of Romney’s presidential bid in 2012, their relationship has been fraught.
Here’s a look at their ups and downs.
Romney calls Trump a “phony” and a “fraud”:
March 3, 2016
Romney called then-candidate Trump a “phony” and a “fraud” during a scathing speech at the University of Utah. He also warned Republican voters that Mr. Trump’s policies could lead to a recession and called on them to vote for another conservative candidate in the primaries.
“Here’s what I know. Donald Trump is a phony, a fraud,” Romney said. “His promises are as worthless as a degree from Trump University. He’s playing the American public for suckers: He gets a free ride to the White House and all we get is a lousy hat.”
The ruthless speech lasted 20 minutes.
Trump fires back:
March 3, 2016
In response to Romney’s comments from earlier that same day, Mr. Trump later said in a rally from Portland, Maine that “he was begging for my endorsement” in the 2012 presidential election.
“I could’ve said, ‘Mitt, drop to your knees.’ He was begging me,” he said.
Trump says Romney “choked like a dog” in 2012:
April 12, 2016
“The last election should have been won, except Romney choked like a dog,” Mr. Trump said of Romney’s 2012 run for the presidency during a New York rally. “He choked. He went ‘I can’t breathe! I can’t breathe,’ he said.”
Then-candidate Trump emphasized the point by making a choking gesture.
Romney says he may vote Libertarian:
June 11, 2016
Ahead of the July 2016 Republican National Convention in which Mr. Trump secured the GOP nomination, Romney said he might vote outside of his party and cast a ballot for Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson.
“I’ll get to know Gary Johnson…